On October 18, 2016, the Japanese Government submitted to the Diet a bill to partially amend the Commercial Code and the Act on International Carriage of Goods by Sea ("Amendment Bill"). The Amendment Bill would update the provisions pertaining to transport businesses and maritime commerce in the Commercial Code, which have not been substantially revised since the introduction of the Code in 1899. In addition to a number of changes, the Amendment Bill has newly introduced:

  • Provisions regarding domestic air transportation as well as general provisions applicable to land/sea/air transport and provisions on combined transport, which refers to two or more of the above types of transport (Articles 569 of the Code and after);
  • A consigner duty to notify a carrier of certain facts when hazardous goods are transported (Article 572 of the Code); and

  • Provisions on charter parties, which are widely used in practice, in parallel with the existing provisions on lease of ships (Articles 704 of the Code and after).

Because the Amendment Bill, if enacted, will affect not only carriers but also any business that may use transport services as a consigner, those who will be affected should pay attention to the debate at the Diet. In addition, any changes to the general contractual terms and conditions of carriers resulting from changes to the Code made by the Amendment Bill should be reviewed.